My Real Life

April 29, 2012

Spa Living: Cancun Style

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am
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I’ve only gotten two massages in my life.

If my insurance would pay for it, I would go every week.

I carry my stress in my neck, and my doctor has said that she can’t believe how tight my neck is.

I also had surgery on my neck, a few years ago, to remove a lymph node the size of a golf ball due to Kikuchi Fujimoto disease (I kid you not…story for another time), and in removing the lymph node, the doctor accidentally severed the spinal accessory nerve, or the nerve that feeds the muscles in the upper right quadrant of my back.  Therefore, my back has had to need to relearn how to delegate the daily work of picking things up, raising my arms, walking around, etc.  You’d never know it to look at me, as the muscles have done well relearning their work, however, my neck and back are stiff and in some pretty big agony quite a bit of time at the end of the day.  It’s why I try to exercise, because the stronger they are, the better the outcome for me, and I don’t want it to slow me down, which it doesn’t.

So, when I started to have the back issues, following the surgery, I went for a massage.

It was a 30 minute massage, and when it was done, I came to two conclusions.

1.  30 minutes wasn’t long enough.

2.  I needed some large Nordic woman named Helga, or some strapping Swedish man named Sven to actually massage hard enough to work out the knots in my neck and back, because the average sized woman who did the massage didn’t even come close to working out a single knot, even though she seemed to be working as hard as she could.

So, I never went back.

Fast-forward to last week, when the girls and I were in Cancun.

They have a spa at the resort, and they offered a variety of massages, preceded by hydration therapy.

Each massage was 100 minutes and was a little bit different than the others.

So, Erin and I both signed up for the Excellence massage, Kim another, and Michaela, yet another.

They led us into the back and, wearing our bathing suits, had us take a quick shower.

Then, we were led into the steam room.

We toughed it out in the steam room as long as we possibly could, but when we began to feel like our faces were melting off, we decided to call it a day.

They led us to the pool, which was divided into several sections.

Kim and I got into a small, circular part of the pool, and were instructed to stand back to back and hold on to these bars that were protruding from the sides of the pool.  Then, they turned on the bubbles.

This jet of bubbles that shot up from the floor of the pool and pounded our feet and our legs.

We were there for about two minutes, and then they moved us into the bigger pool, where we had to hold on, again, while a jet of bubbles shot at our stomachs for two minutes.

From there, we moved across the pool, where we saw two enormous spouts that were flat.  We turned our backs and these flat streams of water jetted onto our backs, pummeling our muscles.  Then, we moved over to round spouts of water that punished our necks and upper backs with water.

Next, you got out of the pool and walked into a valley of rocks that were sprayed with water to massage your feet, and when you came out the other side, you were to dip your entire body (head under) in a pool of icy water.  So cold. It was so cold.

When we raced back out of the ice pool, we were treated to the sauna, where we lay for about five minutes.  (Best part of the hydration therapy)  We relaxed and talked and enjoyed the sauna.

When they knocked on the door, we thought we were going upstairs for our massages, but no…back in the icy pool for another dip.

And, surprisingly, this time, not so bad.

THEN it was time to go up.

They separated us into our massage rooms, and we got to meet our masseurs.

I was instantly disappointed.

Mine was this little, tiny man named Ivan, who said in a quiet, high voice, “Hola, Miss!”

Helga or Sven, he was not.

He started to speak to me, in English, with a very thick accent, and I couldn’t understand him, so I explained that I speak Spanish, and he switched over and then we were able to communicate much, much better.

He left the room while I got ready and laid on the table, face down.

I heard the door open and he came back in.  There were many sounds as he moved around, mixing things and opening cupboards, etc.

All of the sudden, his little hands appeared in front of my face, and he said, “Por favor” and then I heard him inhaling very slowly, so I, too, inhaled very slowly, and was overwhelmed with a pungent scent, which I assumed was on his hands and was supposed to be aromatherapy.

Okay.  I went with it.

Thus began the most amazing 100 minute massage that ever was.

(Yes, I realize I have no frame of reference, but it was unreal.)

There were hot oils, hot wraps, hot stones.

My feet were wrapped in hot chocolate paste and saran wrapped.  (Poor Ivan…as he painted the chocolate on my extremely ticklish feet, I giggled and giggled and he apologized and apologized, no matter how many times I told him it was just fine…fun, in fact.)

Little Ivan was deceptively strong, and after his first go at my neck and back where he sucked in his breath and said “Wow!  This is really tight!” he put that strength to use and worked out every single kink in my musculature.

It.  Was.  Amazing.

The only part I didn’t LOVE was the “scalp massage.”

It was really more of a “Pull Amy’s Hair for 5 minutes” massage, and I wasn’t too down with that.

I stuck with it, because I kept thinking it would get better, but it didn’t.

In the grand scheme of the other 95 minutes, I really didn’t care that much.

He even massaged my face and my sinuses sang for joy.

I came out of that room, wrapped in my big, fluffy robe and found Kim lounging on this round sofa, cup of tea in hand.

I was like butter.  I melted into the sofa, Ivan brought me some tea, and we waited for Erin and Michaela, who soon floated out of their rooms, as well.

I don’t think I will ever have another massage like the one I experienced in Cancun.

I’m not sure I’ll ever get another massage again, because I’ll just know it won’t measure up.

And, it’s interesting, that since the plane landed in Newark, my neck and back have been slowly getting tighter and tighter, and while I was used to it before and so it didn’t hurt all the time, it’s kinda hurting all the time, now.

Soon, I’ll be all wound up again and walking around with my shoulders near my ears and Ivan will be a distant memory.

But, for the rest of you…if you ever hit the Excellence Riviera Resort in Cancun, get the Excellence massage.

And ask for Ivan.


  1. I love massages! Love love love them. My husband bought me a gift certificate to a local spa for Christmas worth about 4 massages, and I have enough for one more hour session left on it. With Mother’s Day right around the corner, I might finally use it.

    Comment by thismummaslife — May 1, 2012 @ 11:40 pm | Reply

    • I’m thinking that, even though I don’t think they’ll measure up to Ivan, I might need to start getting them more regularly. My life is pretty high stress…my neck is a mess today!

      Comment by abozza — May 2, 2012 @ 6:43 am | Reply

      • If you can afford to do it I recommend seeing a chiropractor that offers massage therapy. Sometimes insurance covers it, or most of it. I really benefited from that.

        Comment by thismummaslife — May 2, 2012 @ 7:37 am

      • I’ll have to check into that! Thanks!

        Comment by abozza — May 2, 2012 @ 8:28 am

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